With the 37th overall draft pick in Thursday’s NBA Draft, the Mavericks are looking for another Jalen Brunson.
Or another Jae Crowder.
But definitely not another Nick Fazekas, Shan Foster or any other forgettable second-round flops of the past.
The sad reality is that there are a lot more of the latter out there than the former, perhaps moreso this year.
The draft, once you get past the top overall pick, which will be Duke’s Zion Williamson to New Orleans, is not believed to be particularly strong. And by the time the second round rolls around, it’s going to be a dart throw at best.
That doesn’t mean the Mavericks can’t mine some gold with their choice. Every year there are second-round finds that become quality NBA contributors. Brunson is proof. As the 33rd pick last year, he came in as a rookie and averaged 9.3 points and 3.2 assists in 73 games, shooting 34.8 percent from 3-point range, which gained him consideration for the NBA’s all-rookie teams.
Crowder was the 34th pick in 2012 and he’s gone on to a strong NBA career. He was one pick ahead of Draymond Green, by the way.
The Mavericks lost their first-round pick this year, which wound up being 10th overall, to the Atlanta Hawks as compensation for the Luka Doncic trade last year on draft night.
So they are left with No. 37, which has not been a particularly strong spot to draft in recent years. Of the past five picks that went 37th, only one – Richaun Holmes in 2015 – has averaged more than 3 points per game for his career.
One of them, Chinanu Onuaku in 2016, played just six NBA games. DeAndre Daniels in 2014 never played an NBA game.
Last year’s 37th selection was Gary Trent, who played in 15 games for the Portland Trail Blazers this season.
So digging up gems is rare when drafting 37th. But the Mavericks will end up with somebody, presuming they don’t trade the pick. So here’s a look at who some of the mock drafts have the Mavericks taking, plus a few others that might make sense.
SI.com and Tankathon—Daniel Gafford, 6-10 center, Arkansas
As a sophomore last season, Gafford was a pretty solid rebounder, and that ability could be enough to keep him in the NBA, although the rest of his game clearly needs work. He’s not the best athlete that will fall to this area and his hands are iffy. But given time, he could develop into a serviceable big man. Could he someday be a poor man’s Clint Capela?
ESPN—Dylan Windler, 6-7 wing, Belmont
The sharpshooting Windler likely will become the second player ever drafted out of Belmont (Joe Gaines, sixth round in 1972). Gaines never played in the NBA, by the way. Windler has an NBA-quality shot that should give him a puncher’s chance of staying in the league and finding a spot in somebody’s rotation, assuming he can improve his defense. Think of a slightly slimmer Doug McDermott.
NBAdraft.net—Darius Bazley, 6-9 forward, no college
The road to the NBA for U.S.-born players who do not go to college is littered with examples that the journey is a lot harder than many young players think. Emmanuel Mudiay, Terrance Ferguson, even Brandon Jennings, all have had modest NBA success compared to their one-time potential. That said, Bazley, who eschewed his Syracuse commitment and the G-League to sit out for a year while getting paid as an intern for New Balance, has athleticism and somebody will take a chance on him.
Draftsite.com—Jordan Poole, 6-4 shooting guard, Michigan
He’s got pretty good catch-and-shoot ability, but beyond that, it’s hard to say that he’s good enough to make an NBA team at this point. He would be a project. Still, we all know how much the Mavericks – and every other team – value the ability to hit perimeter shots. This might be a bit of a reach. Most mock drafts have him going considerably lower, although he is expected to be drafted somewhere.
NBAdraftroom.com—Tacko Fall 7-6 center, Central Florida
The gigantic Fall is going to require some patience by whoever drafts him. But he’s got the one thing nobody can ever be taught: height. He’s not completely bankrupt when it comes to athleticism and as a rim protector, he’s obviously got great potential. The second round of any draft is full of possible draft-and-stash guys who could end up in the G-League or overseas. Fall fits that description, possibly as a two-way player.
Other possible draftees of note:
Chuma Okeke, 6-8, forward, Auburn
Sadly tore his ACL in the tournament or he’d be a first-rounder for sure. He fits at the NBA level because he can guard multiple positions and would be great in switching defenses. He’d probably miss all of this season, but might be a great future asset for a team with patience.
Carsen Edwards, 6-0, point guard, Purdue
Not likely that he slips to 37, but his greatness in the NCAA tournament confirmed that he can score at will and if you could pair him with a bigger playmaker (Hmmmmm…), he could be a strong, though undersized, shooting guard who also can handle the ball.
Isaiah Roby, 6-8, power forward, Nebraska
He has solid ball handling skills and can shoot well enough for a player his size. He played center most of the time last season but he’s got enough basketball IQ to be a contributor at the next level.
Jarrey Foster, 6-6 wing, SMU
Many scouts have said that the oft-injured Foster has first-round skills. But it’s a question of whether or not he can stay healthy after numerous leg problems.
Admiral Schofield, 6-5, forward, Tennessee
Not the greatest athlete and not the greatest build. But he is off the charts when it comes to effort. That often is enough to get a team’s attention in the second round.
Miye Oni, 6-6 wing, Yale
He’s got a good stroke and could be a decent spot-up shooter at the NBA level. He’s not going to overwhelm anybody physically, but he’s not a bad passer or rebounder, either, for his size.
Vanja Marinkovic, 6-5 wing, Serbia, (Partizan Belgrade)
Because these are the Mavericks, you know they are very well tuned in to the European market. It’s not a particularly strong group from Europe. But a Luka Doncic only comes along so often. Marinkovic can shoot it and already is one of the best shooting guards in Europe.